Billions of dollars through the historic Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program will bring vital investments and good-paying jobs into communities historically excluded from economic development initiatives.
Energy resilience brings big wins for communities across the country: keeping the lights on for critical services and community cores is the backbone of local economies. However, injecting billions of dollars into developing our nation’s grid infrastructure brings additional benefits as well: good-paying jobs, contracts with local and minority-owned businesses, workforce training programs, and more. This is why President Biden issued an executive order to create the Justice40 initiative, which directs 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments—including investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, and training and workforce development—to flow to disadvantaged communities (DACs) across the country. This effort guarantees that regions that have not traditionally benefited from economic development or energy resilience initiatives can experience the positive outcomes of these projects on local services, businesses, and families.
On October 18, 2023, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $3.46 billion for 58 projects across 44 states to strengthen electric grid resilience and reliability across the United States, all while improving climate resilience and creating good-paying union jobs. These projects will leverage more than $8 billion in public and private investments as part of the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office (GDO).
A historic investment like GRIP requires the intentional engagement of local communities and organized labor to ensure that these benefits flow equitably into communities. This is why DOE requires Community Benefits Plans as part of all funding opportunities under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. These plans are contractual obligations to ensure broadly shared prosperity in the clean energy transition. Community Benefits Plans are based on a set of four core policy priorities:
- Engaging communities and labor;
- Investing in America’s workforce;
- Advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and
- Implementing President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.
Selected GRIP projects demonstrated substantial commitments to create good-paying jobs, work in good faith with organized labor, and bring benefits to DACs. Over three quarters of the projects selected in the first GRIP funding cycle have strategic partnerships with organized labor, and 100 percent of projects include Justice40 commitments to direct benefits into DACs. What does this look like in practice?
- In Georgia, Georgia Environmental Finance Authority will invest in transmission and distribution improvements that maximize benefits in rural and disadvantaged communities to ensure that hard-to-reach communities see improved energy resiliency and service reliability.
- In Pennsylvania, PPL Electric Utilities Corporation will invest in grid technologies to reduce outages, lower energy bills for over 800,000 people living in DACs, and create up to 225 new jobs.
- In California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, Pacificorp will strengthen the grid against wildfire, distributing at least 75 percent of allocated workforce development funds to DACs.
- In New Orleans, Entergy New Orleans (ENO) has committed to training at least 200 students each year through a workforce development agreement established with the New Orleans Career Center, resulting in at least 1,000 students trained in clean energy related jobs throughout the life of the project. Furthermore, through a collaboration with the First72+ and Delgado Community College, formerly incarcerated individuals will be able to complete ENO’s lineworker training program and other workforce training programs.
- In Oklahoma and Western Arkansas, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company’s work to create a smart grid platform to strengthen the grid against extreme weather events and climate risks will also include three separate Community Benefits Agreements to support DACs and improve education and workforce planning. All project benefits will flow to DACs and Tribal lands impacted by extreme weather, including approximately $50 million in economic impact and programs to improve power access through deposit and bill support.
This is just a sample of efforts underway. Take a look at the full list of GRIP projects to see details about their Community Benefits Plans and concrete steps to support DACs across the United States. These critical investments in our nation’s grid infrastructure will not only make electricity more reliable and affordable for millions, but also drive local economic development and prosperity for years to come.
This blog is part of a series taking a deeper look at trends across the first round of GRIP selections. Catch up on the other blogs here: